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2015, vol. 57, iss. 1, pp. 7-24
The concept of social domination in Axel Honneth's critical theory
University of Belgrade, Institute for Phylosophy and Social Theory
Keywords: Honneth; social domination; social conflict; critique; action theory; ideology; social pathology
This paper attempts to reconstruct the concept of social domination articulated in the early works of Axel Honneth, a key figure of the 'third generation' of critical theory. The author argues that one of the key ambitions of the early Honneth, expressed trhough his critique of Jürgen Habermas, was to theorize the process of societal reproduction in contemporary capitalism in 'action-theoretic' terms, i.e. as determined by the inter-group dynamics of social conflict and domination, as opposed to Habermas' systems-theoretic approach. The author analyzes Honneth's criticism of Habermas developed in 'The Critique of Power', and focuses more narrowly on Honneth's conceptualization of social domination outlined in the early article 'Moral Conscioussness and Class Domination'. The analysis grounds the author's subsequent reconstruction of the early Honneth's conception of social domination as a two-dimensional phenomenon that encompasses an 'intentional' and a 'structural' dimension. Turning towards Honneth's mature perspective, the author argues that a critique of social domination no longer occupies a central place in Honneth's influential theory of recognition. Finally, the author considers Honneth's only recent attempt at theorizing domination presented in the article 'Recognition as Ideology', and argues that Honneth has so far missed the opportunity to integrate the early social-theoretical perspective on domination into his mature theoretical system.


article language: English
document type: Original Scientific Paper
DOI: 10.2298/SOC1501005I
published in SCIndeks: 25/07/2015

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